Thursday, October 8, 2009

Harassed by a Worker at the Vendemmia

He cupped my breast so fast I didn’t even realize that I had just been molested. I didn’t know what to do. One of the workers, who I’ll call One-Eyed Pete, kept harassing me today.

At first it started with glaring stares. One of the supervisors had to yell at him.

“Pietro, ma cosa guardi, (Pete what are you looking at),” said the supervisor when he noticed Pete watching me while I took a break to drink water at the end of the vines.

We switched fields later in the day. We began to pick the white grapes for Vin Santo. Only the best grapes are picked, those without any marks, mold and that are ripe. They are cut and then laid in a plastic carton so that they can dry by Christmas.

Because the labor was slower and more involved I had to rely on One-Eyed Pete for advice. Esat was busy riding on the back of the tractor running up and down the rows collecting the filled cartons. So I had to stay close to One-Eyed.

Of course the jokes started. But he and another colleague saw my displeasure and annoyance at hearing more jokes. So they began to assure me that they only say jokes to pass time. It’s only talk.

One-Eyed stepped closer to me to tell me that once a girl thought he touched her, but he really didn’t. I joked that he should stand back since I had my scissors in my hand. But missing one eye did not stop the little man on zeroing in on me. He reenacted how he touched her. He swiftly reached out his arm, placing his hands around my breast. I looked down, his hand was gone and he was laughing.

One of the non-Italian workers noticed what happened. This was the first time he spoke to me. He yelled to me from down the vine to stay away from One-Eyed Pete.

I didn’t know what to do. One-Eyed was slick, he acted like it was all in good fun and even had the other worker laughing about it. I was mostly mad at myself for letting it happen. The rules are different out here. If I yelled at him or told the owner, I would probably look like a prudish moralist or stuck-up American girl. I just kept reminding myself that it was my last day.

Esat remarked that they took advantage of him not being around. He noticed that they had all been acting differently since the day I arrived on the fields.

When I returned home I told my Tuscan male friend what had happened.

His response “Va be, in campagna (Oh well, it’s the countryside).”


MissB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MissB said...

I can't believe how casual the men are about harassment! Like it's okay to to talk about and touch a woman like a piece of meat.
I'm glad it was your last day. Your a strong woman for having to deal with that talk for so long.

Natalie Trusso Cafarello said...

I actually was shocked myself. Some of the things that were said to me would be cause for lawsuit.